Battling West Ham can’t recover from nightmare start against Man City
PUBLISHED: 17:59 28 August 2016
The Hammers battle back through Antonio but it is Manchester City who take the points
Manchester City 3 West Ham United 1
West Ham gave Manchester City a real second-half scare at the Etihad, but in the end it was the home side who kept up their 100 per cent record with a 3-1 win.
A nightmare first 15 minutes saw the Hammers slip 2-0 down and a cricket score looked on the cards, but after the break West Ham rallied, grabbed a goal through Michail Antonio and caused them all sorts of problems before an injury-time goal sealed it for City with a slightly flattering 3-1 win.
Manager Slaven Bilic opted to play three centre halves to combat Manchester City, but that may have been more to do with the lack of form of right-back Sam Byram than any other tactic. He also gave a first start to former Manchester United youngster Ashley Fletcher up front, while Manuel Lanzini came in for the first time this season on the bench.
But there was still no sign of star man Dimitri Payet, while new signings Edimilson Fernandes and Simone Zaza will both have to wait for their chance.
Any hopes of a repeat of last season’s magnificent 2-1 win at the Etihad for the Hammers were quickly dispelled. City won two corners in as many minutes and by the seventh minute they were in front.
David Silvaq beat Enner Valencia in midfield and fired a pass out to Nolito on the left side of the box and when he dragged the ball back, Raheem Sterling was on hand to sweep it into the net.
West Ham were finding it tough to get any sort of possession and on 18 minutes they went further behind. This time Kevin De Bruyne delivered a superb free kick from the right and Fernandinho stole into the box unmarked to head the ball past a helpless Adrian.
It looked like the floodgates were open already and De Bruyne went close twice more, first with a free-kick which went just over and then when Silva pulled another effort back across goal from the left, only for the Belgian to see his effort tipped wide by Adrian.
Fletcher did manage to head Gokhan Tore’s header wide, while Mark Noble released Michail Antonio with an exquisite pass, only for a last-ditch tackle to deny him a shooting chance.
Bilic brought on Byram at half time for Tore as he reshuffled the pack. But things got no better for the Hammers as Aguero had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for offside, while City began to lay siege on the West Ham goal as Pep Guardiola’s in form side looked for more goals.
But just as the game looked all over bar the shouting, West Ham handed themselves a lifeline. Arthur Masuaku got into a good position on the left wing and when he got the better of his marker, he delivered the perfect cross to the far post where Antonio was there to head in his second goal in as many Premier League games.
The Hammers had the bit between their teeth all of a sudden and Antonio was causing problems for the City defence.
Manuel Lanzini came on for his first match of the season, while Winston Reid was forced off after a stray elbow by Aguero, unseen by the referee, but Bilic opted to put on another attacker in Jonathan Calleri and go to four at the back.
Samir Nasri had a couple of chances to make the game safe for City, the second of which was cleared away by Byram, while Sterling also hit the side-netting and Silva rattled the post.
And in the end, West Ham’s resistance was finally ended in injury time as Sterling rounded the keeper and stroked the ball home from an acute angle to seal the points.
West Ham: Adrian, Collins, Reid (Calleri 77), Ogbonna; Antonio, Noble, Kouyate, Masuaku; Tore (Byram h/t), Valencia (Lanzini 60); Fletcher.
Unused Subs: Randolph, Obiang, Burke, Oxford.
Man City: Fernandinho,
West Ham: Masuaku, Fletcher, Noble.
Referee: Andre Marriner.